WASHINGTON—As a record-breaking sea of people assembled on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Tuesday to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama, America’s 44th president, a deep serenity washed over the crowd.
From all over the world, a pilgrimage of supporters calmly waited in anticipation to witness the historic ascent of the first black U.S. President, though their tranquility was perforated with intense displays of pride, relief, and jubilation.
The masses, stretching back from the Capitol Building where the swearing-in occurred, cheered appropriately with the entrance of Congressmen, Senators, and other dignitaries – which many viewers watched from the two dozen jumbotron screens erected on the Mall.
A brief display of negativity occurred with the entrance of outgoing-President George W. Bush. Some booed, though most remained respectively silent.
Spectators held their breath for Obama’s address to the nation, which soberly and sincerely called on the American people to commit to a new age of action and responsibility.
“Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America,” the new president proclaimed. “For everywhere we look, there is work to be done.”
With the official announcement of Obama’s inauguration, the crowd once again erupted into cheers, and furiously waved their freely-distributed American flags.
A Bermudan man, who had traveled to Washington to witness this event, captured the spirit of the crowd well.
“Today is a new day,” he said. “Now there is hope for change.”
A commercialization of the historic event was found on the sidewalks: inauguration paraphernalia t-shirts, oversized buttons, caps, and posters, all to commemorate the symbolic day of change.
The cheering quickly died down, though, as many began to automatically drift away.
With many recognizing the President as a sign of change, and endowed with their full confidence, the populous sensed their work was done: America had elected Obama. They could go home.
Suddenly Washington was faced with two-million lost people, who either could not access transit, or were impeded by barricades set up by over 8,000 security personnel on the northern side of Mall. The smiling crowds – both cold and tired– moved slowly, with little yelling, chanting, or pushing. No arrests were made at the inauguration.
Tuesday’s event was the final of three days of the inauguration program. On Sunday, burgeoning crowds inched toward the Lincoln Memorial for a patriotic concert featuring performances from international artists, actors, and actresses.